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Reviews of Guantanamo files confirm: psychologists knew of torture, and tacitly supported it

04/27/2011

599px-Camp_x-ray_detainees In 2008 the American Psychological Association issued a resolution saying that psychologists may not work in places where people are tortured, or support torture in any form. 

To many of us have done it anyway. 

Vincent Iacopino and Stephen Xenakis reviewed Guantanamo Bay (GTMO) medical records and case files of nine prisoners. The records showed that the detainees did tell GTMO medical staff that they were being tortured, tortured with abusive interrogation methods that are clearly defined by the UN as being torture. What they went through was even beyond the Bush administration lax definition of torture.

Despite witnessing the physical and psychological wounds of these nine detainees, medical staff took no action to report the violations. They patched them up and sent them back in.

It gets worse. Medical records show that the detainees were showing signs of psychological problems. Yes, being imprisoned is going to take someone to an edge of psychological despair, but the records showed that there was much more going on.  One of the detainees was having nightmares, memory lapses, loss of appetite, depression and suicidal thoughts. He was treated with antidepressants and a chilling recommendation of “You…need to relax when guards are being more aggressive.”

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Psychology's "how to" guide to relationships

04/22/2011

Strangers_on_a_Train_-_Romance Human beings are social creatures, and so it’s no surprise that when we’re not trying to get in relationships we’re managing relationships, and when we’re not managing relationships we’re complaining to our friends about how we need to be in one. 

What is surprising is that for all the time, energy, and thought we put into our relationships, most of us are not very good at getting them right. 

Admit it. Don’t worry, you’re not alone. 

An article in Psychology Today, entitled A Message of Hope for Anyone Seeking a Relationship, looks looks at three core constructs that form the basis of all growth facilitating relationships.

Here’s a glimpse of what relationship guru Ken Page suggests:

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University

Beyond the Inhaler: a whole person approach to treating asthma

04/21/2011

596px-Inhaler Researchers at the University of Cincinnati have found that children with asthma are successfully managing their symptoms using complementary and alternative medicines and practices like prayer and relaxation.

This research adds to a growing body of research that could help doctors and community health care providers gain insights in to helping a community of children self-manage their asthma.

Children living in urban centers in the United States are more likely to suffer from asthma than their suburban or rural peers. The field of pediatrics has been working on ways to help these youth live better lives despite their condition. Traditional treatment methods such as using inhalers or the pill form of asthma medications are effective at dealing with the physical symptoms.

But we also know that asthma can undermine a child’s experience of daily life. Every day they are burdened with the need to manage their physical health. They must live in complete awareness of what’s happening in their bodies at all times because they may or may not know when or where the next asthma attack may happen. The need for coping skills is critical for their overall well-being – and spiritual and alternative approaches were found to have significant benefits for asthmatic children.

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University

Empathy is going the way of the land-line: one more thing the young are giving up

04/20/2011

800px-US_Navy_040915-N-0000W-121_Lt._Charles_Dickerson_checks_on_a_young_patient_in_Ward_5B_of_the_U.S._Naval_Hospital,_Yokosuka Are college students today less likely to feel sympathy for people less fortunate than them than college students were 30 years ago? 

We’d better have a talk about empathy, before it’s too late. 

A meta-analyses study published in the August 2010 issue of Personality and Social Psychology Review looked at research empathy dating from 1979-2009, including over 13,000 college students. The researchers were looking at the personality quality referred to as dispositional empathy – which is what students display when they say that they care about the homeless man who sleeps in the park near campus. 

Konrath and colleagues found that students were less likely to agree with statements such as “I often have tender, concerned feelings for people less fortunate than me” and “I sometimes try to understand my friends better by imagining how things look from their perspective.” That last statement is critical to empathy.

The research indicates that a particular type of empathy has been lost. There has been a steady decline in the ability to imagine another person’s point of view and to sympathize with them. 

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Dying and dignity: Finding a good death in the story of our lives

04/19/2011

We all wish for a good life – and we try to imagine what a good death would be.

A good death may be one where we are able to have some control over how we die. What would be a part of a good death?  What would you want to do with your last moments of life? There may be so many things running through your mind … but would one of them be sharing time with your family and friends?

How, and when, would you want to say goodbye?

NPR recently featured as story about a hospice in St. Louis that gives clients the opportunity to not only say goodbye but to leave a legacy of their lives, their stories.

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The proof piles up: complementary medicine can change your life.

04/18/2011

Hypnotic-spiral Hypnosis isn’t all powerful – but it can sure make your life better. 

A recent article in the New York Times gave an example: a middle aged woman suffering a debilitating illness, facing the fear of surgery. She undergoes four hypnotic sessions at the Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Integrative Medicine. The result—a calm surgery and speedy recovery.   

The reintegration of hypnosis into society is part of a bigger societal transformation. Indeed it is the forerunner of a more complete and wholesome methodology of care: a revolution of mind-body and integrative medicine. It’s catching on like wildfire – with some of the biggest and best hospitals offering integrative medicine focused on mind-body techniques akin to hypnosis. Among them: Stanford Hospital, Beth Israel Medical Center, and Mount Sinai Medical Center.

In recent years, integrative medicine has seen greater credibility and wide-spread acceptance as research proves its efficacy. Its selling point for many: It’s a combination of conventional treatments combined with complementary and alternative treatments.

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What's the one essential skill in the new economy? Survey says: creativity

04/15/2011

Everyday Creativity “Problems cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them,” said Einstein. 

In these turbulent times, there are plenty of problems to go around. Families, businesses, governments—you name it and issues abound, and it seems like for decades we’ve been stuck.

But it may be that these seemingly insurmountable issues facing businesses, society, and government can be solved by tapping into your everyday genius;  Reports are suggesting that “creativity” may well be the new form of pragmatism.

That’s what Mark Batey proposes in Is Creativity the Number 1 Skill for the 21st Century. Batey, a creativity researcher and editor of the International Journal of Creativity and Problem Solving speaks to “creativity” as being an essential facet of personal skill sets in the future.

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Setting your own schedule makes it easier to get your work done

04/14/2011

Flexible_Workplace_Variability Have you had any trouble with work-life balance recently?  You wouldn’t be alone.  The inability to integrate work in your life, is a common complaint among employees.

So imagine, if you will, a job where you can decide when and where you work. The only requirement is that you complete all of your assigned duties.  If you had it, you would be working in a ROWE or results-oriented work environment.

Employees at the Best Buy Richfield, MN offices didn’t have to imagine this scenario. It was their real life work experience, beginning began back in 2005 thanks to two Best Buy employees Jody Thompson and Cali Ressler. Studying this experiment, sociology professors Erin Kelly and Phyllis Moen found that it worked better than expected.

Maybe more of us should get to ROWE.

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It turns out torture is in the eye of the observers -- so we need better observers

04/13/2011

Torture (Abu Ghraib) It seems like we should know what is and isn’t torture.  But do we?

Most of the debate has centered on specific techniques – sleep deprivation?  Stress positions?  Water boarding?  The endless ways we can do one another harm seem to have created an endless shade of gray, because we’ll never have a checklist big enough to cover every scenario … or exactly how they can be applied.

But what if that’s the wrong way to approach the question?  Is there a better way to determine what is and isn’t torture? 

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University

How many people will hurt you for $33? The answer is a lesson in evil

04/12/2011

Military_of_Montenegro_training2 “Money is the root of all evil”

Well not exactly. The actual quote is “For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil…” -- Timothy 6:10

The world is still reeling from the disastrous collapse of worldwide financial markets all fueled by that toxic love for money. A lot has been written over the centuries about the problems of desire, greed, and evil;  and you’d think that with all the knowledge of history to draw upon, we’d know that it’s not a good idea to put others in harm’s way for profit. 

Sadly, a recent study has shown that we’re just as eager to make the same old mistakes one more time if there’s a buck in it. 

At the April 2011 annual meeting of the Cognitive Neuroscience Society co-author Oriel FeldmanHall presented a study that showed that even with our best spoken intentions, sometimes we will do the very opposite, especially when it comes down to money.

Participants were initially asked if they would give another person an electric shock in order receive a cash payout. When presented with that option as a purely hypothetical situation, most people said no. 

Then they were given a chance to do it for real.

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